By the time the Who released this album, they had already established themselves as one of the most important and inventive bands trolling the British landscape. Aside from slaying audiences with awe-inspiring live performances, the London band’s first and previous album, The Who Sings My Generation generated packets of positive responses.
The Who’s trademark code of crunchy power chords, blurry distortion, deafening feedback and driving rhythms, mated with experimental maneuvers make A Quick One [Happy Jack] (Reaction Records) an impressive collection of ideas.
Some pretty bizarre scenarios are encountered on the disc, particularly “A Quick One, While He’s Away,” which sets the stage for guitarist Pete Townshend’s rock opera fetish, that needless to say, culminated in albums such as Tommy and Quadrophenia. Layered with knotty structures and movements, the elaborate nine-minute essay addresses infidelity to a peculiar mix of hokey hillbilly sounds, boozy sea-shanty stylings and godly Beach Boys-influenced harmonies.
Another oddball track on the album is “Cobwebs And Strange,” a noisy and chaotic instrumental spiked with the shrilly toot of a kazoo. Drummer Keith Moon, who wrote the number, is the star of the show here, as his tub-thumping work is so violent and vivid that it’s capable of peeling paint off the walls and causing the roof to cave in.
Bassist John Entwistle takes center field on both the husky-throated “Whiskey Man,” which humorously admits too much of a fondness for the drink, where the slinky slippery “Boris The Spider” is an insect activist’s nightmare, for it recites the tale of being fearful of the hairy little bugger and eventually killing him.
On a more streamlined note, there’s the shimmering pop of “So Sad About Us” that explodes into the wild blue yonder with colossal choruses, glittery melodies and an utterly piercing break, along with “Run Run Run,” a robust rocker reverberating with heavy intensity.
Pushing boundaries left and right, A Quick One [Happy Jack] captures the Who exploring and embodying unusual themes and sonics to great effects. The band’s chops are elastic and electrifying, and lead singer Roger Daltrey’s vocals are as cool and charismatic as can be.
Touching base on everything from pop art persuasions to hard rocking rumbles to progressive pickings, A Quick One [Happy Jack] projects an air of wonder and excitement each groove of the way.